Released on: Everything Must Go (Album #4) Epic Records, 20 May 1996
It’s quite easy to forget how much preparatory work had been done for what would become Everything Must Go before Edwards’ disappearance. One of the best examples of this is the album’s closer ‘No Surface All Feeling’, the outro of which is said to feature one of the only recorded guitar performances by Edwards. Partly for this reason, the song has become the one on the album which has really taken on a kind of mythic quality among a section of fans (similarly to [T35] ‘Condemned to Rock ‘N’ Roll’, also a closer).
What is really important about the song in the album context is that it puts a conclusive end to the record, yes, but also the run of quite middling songs which dominate EMG‘s second half – it comes to the rescue by amping up the band’s hard edge a little and by swinging about its great riff. The song feels muscular in a way that quite a lot of EMG, for all its stadium sounds and epic ambitions, actually does not.
Lyrically, the song is largely a return to one of those perennial Manics themes – looking back on the past. It takes quite a dim view of this practice, though, with the line “what’s the point in always looking back / when all you see is more and more junk”. This has been interpreted as a reflection of the band’s conscious decision to continue as a working unit and to move forward rather than attempting to recreate their own history. In short, it taps into the whole regenerative theme of EMG as a record. Beyond this, though, the song isn’t one of the best lyrical moments on the record: the declining intellectualism of the album manifests as strongly here as on any other song, and it’s a trend which has not necessarily reflected well on a band whose best moments often involve unashamed displays of intelligence.
This is not to say that ‘No Surface All Feeling’ is unintelligent or a poor song; but although its mythic reputation is justified to some extent, it really does pale in comparison to true Manics classics released both before and after it. As a Manics album closer, however, it is a strong one.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“see me now and I will apologise / for me, for you, we knew they were lies”